**Warning this post contains photos of alcohol and other Amsterdam things**
I am well aware that I do not post photos of me drinking, even if it is legal here, but you would take a photo of your free beer when you went through a Heineken museum, too. The legal drinking age in Holland is 16, and it’s 18 in most of Europe. No worries though, I keep it classy.
I thought about trying to narrate everything we did in Amsterdam and then put photos, but it’d probably be easier to just mix in photos… hopefully this is still easy to read!
We left home around 5 AM Monday morning, so you could definitely say I was not a happy camper. I hate waking up early and I’m not a big fan of flying. It was nice to fly with Martin though.
A few photos from the plane
Still flying over Oslo
After we reached Oslo, we had a 10 hour layover so we spent a portion of the day in Jessheim (yes-hime). Martin likes to joke that it used to be called “Jaheim” (jah-hime) but they decided to make it more international.
Found this beauty for you dad. It says: Dad is another word for ATM
Back at Oslo airport, there’s a sushi bar where food comes on a conveyor belt and you just pick up what you want.
The plates had different colors to correspond with different prices, but don’t be fooled. It was ALL way too expensive. They cost between $10 and $15 for a single bowl thing.
Getting ready to fly again, from Oslo to Amsterdam!
Our hotel room was crazy! This is the sliding door to the bathroom.
Here it is slid open
By the time we arrived in Amsterdam, we were both exhausted, so we decided to try to get some rest before morning.
Tuesday morning we woke up for a boat ride through the canals of Amsterdam. It was a REALLY long ride and very touristy, but we had to do it at least once.
A view from the boat.
The boat was pretty empty though
Martin thought the houses literally built on the water were cool.
I on the other hand really enjoyed the brick buildings that appeared to be smushed together.
I remember this building was important, but I can’t remember why. I think it’s a hotel?
After that trip, we walked over to the Pancake Bakery for some authentic pannekoeken, which is exactly what it sounds like: pancakes. Except better because they were filled with things.
I know this looks normal because I am so short, but I assure you the doors were small.
See? Short doors. Martin looks like a gaint next to these!
At every table they had this homemade syrup which was really interesting.
Apparently when Norwegians vacation, they drink a lot, so here’s Martin enjoying his favorite beer at breakfast. Well okay more like brunch.
I on the other hand had a nice coffee out of this weird glass thing.
And here’s the pannekoeken! It’s huge.
Afterwards we walked to various shops.
The buildings were so pretty.
I also loved the green trees… it’s definitely spring time
Oh yeah and there were bikes EVERYWHERE. I am honestly surprised we didn’t get hurt between the other tourists, bikers, people on scooters, cars, buses, train things… crazy. Martin called Amsterdam “The Portland of Europe”.
We made our way to the coffee shop. No, we didn’t do anything.
Inside a local shop. Amsterdam was definitely a lot more liberal than I expected!
Seriously. This was EVERYWHERE just next to sodas.
This is an important building in the center…. but I can’t remember why…
The tulips were also beautiful!
After that we pretty much headed to bed. The first day we spent just walking around looking at shops and buying gifts and whatnot.
Next morning we went to a different place with wooden menus and “American size portions” which means Martin and I decided to split a meal.
Martin’s idea of a portion for me
But really this food was the BEST food we had in Amsterdam. Perfect portion for us to split.It was a very fresh and clean place. Awesome.
Afterwards we got our hair cut, because it’s only 50€ while in Norway it’s like 500 kr. I haven’t had my hair cut since December so it was amazing. We even got free coffee while our hair was cut. Everyone is very friendly in Amsterdam!
After that we made our way to the Heineken museum which was 15€ per person and included two free beers and a free beer glass. I’d say it was well worth it.
An old poster
Obviously tourist photo… no shame
Different Heineken logos
Learning about the 4 main ingredients in beer
Learning how to properly drink beer.
Afterwards we got to sit with our beer in this room with huge screens just playing Heineken commercials and the ceiling was decorated with bottles.
Then we got to watch a machine label bottles.
He hates photos but he has such a pretty smile… I don’t understand…
Awesome blacklight room with, you guessed it, Heineken beers in the background
Our free beer!
Yes yes I know I’m holding a beer. Just a reminder I turn 21 in 3 months and the legal age is 16 here, and 18 in Norway.
Martin in shock by the sheer amount of his favorite beer. And it’s cheap.
A few of the different beers
A Heineken boat!
After the Heineken experience, we walked around some more.
Ah, food in the wall. Basically this beauty is open 24/7. You put in a euro or two and then you get to open one of the doors and take out the food, kindof like how you pay for a newspaper. It’s cheap, good, hot food available whenever. Genius.
So many options.
Holland has some big shoes ;) Too bad I managed to not smile.
And afterwards we headed back to the hotel before going out for the last night.
Our hotel was that tall building
Martin thought this was funny
And to end it all, here’s the train station which is HUGE.
Overall, our two or three days in Amsterdam was pretty cool. It was nice to get to see a different part of Europe, especially one that is so drastically different in temperature and attitude.
We also saw the Red Light District and went through a prostitution museum, but they kindly asked for no photos, and I guarantee you the women won’t stand for that. So, if you want to know about that, you’ll just have to ask me in person!
Anyways that’s Amsterdam. We went to Oslo for a few days afterwards, so I’ll get right on posting that.
Ha det! Og god påske!
With classes almost over and Easter travels around the corner, I haven’t exactly been up to much lately. I have been trying to understand Norwegian a little bit better with some extra help from Patrik, the English/Norwegian teacher whose area of expertise is Linguistics.
Aside from that I have been trying to be a bit healthier and walk more/again, while also completely contradicting that statement by watching things like Once Upon a Time and Anchorman.
Obviously, you don’t want pictures of that sort of thing, so I haven’t taken many. However, since we are departing for Amsterdam at 6 in the morning, I figured today would be a nice time to just throw out all of the photos we took in random places that just never made it on the blog.
On one of our walks in which I sport no makeup.
The water in the bottle is fresh spring water? I guess?
A different walk
No makeup and pigtails that day made me look 5.
Norwegian culture museum
I really liked this piece.
A model of Bodø
This is a Sami Lavvo (similar to a tipi), but no one told me it would have manikins inside so that was scary.
The aviation museum.
A view of Bodø from the old control tower
You can see the old bunkers on the left in green… there are also some in the hills
This is a view of the lower level of the museum, but they hung a lot of planes from the top.
Some propaganda to ask America for help
This goat was a big deal for unknown reasons.
How far away I am from a few places…. by plane of course
I have no clue what this is from
And I’ll end it with a photo of Bodø while the sun sets.
As I said, we will be enjoying our Easter vacation in Amsterdam, and also in Oslo for a few days so I won’t have anything to post until then.
Ha det bra! Og god påske!
It’s pretty cold here in Norway, but every once in a while it “warms up” enough that I can wear jeans and a t shirt long enough to go to the shore and enjoy the nature. I don’t have a lot to say, but that I enjoyed my day and that Martin is responsible for basically all of these photos.
Oh yeah and I found a Viking helmet at Toys R Us! So fitting.
It wasn’t quite warm enough to go the whole day without a jacket.
Eeeeew I know. It’s one picture it’s okay.
I’m not totally sure how this picture happened, but basically I could be a hair model. No green ninjas needed.
My first experience with real seaweed.
And the beautiful sun to sum it all up.
That’s all for now…
WARNING this post also lacks a lot of pictures.
On Thursday we had the International food festival which was held by ISU. Basically you got together with a group of other students from your home country and made traditional food for everyone to try. ISU gave each group 500 kr (which is like $80) to make dishes large enough to serve samples to 50 or so people. There’s a few Americans here, but most of them are on exec and had to do much bigger things that night than cook, so it was just me, Martin (not by choice), and Jessica (the ELS teacher).
I figured most people expected us to buy McDonalds and just bring that or something, so I spent some time thinking about what I considered to be traditional for me… not stereotypical. We decided on baked macaroni and cheese along with green bean casserole, and 4 types of cookies: Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter Blossom, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip.
I actually had class that day, and the kitchen isn’t really big enough for all of us, so Martin ended up making basically everything! I am a horrible person. The food was good though.
About an hour before the event we headed over to Jessica’s to make the main dishes, which still basically involved Martin cooking. I got to see her kids though, and they were the most adorable bilingual kids I have ever seen! We had a chance to talk about how she taught them both languages and how they keep the two languages separate, which was pretty insightful.
Once we arrived and set up, Jessica insisted we go enjoy the evening and try all of the food since she goes to these every year. I still think that was incredibly nice of her, and we definitely ate a little bit of everything.
Of course, some of the food was a little too much for me (like anything Spanish was hot as hell), but overall it was pretty good and I am thoroughly surprised. I think a lot of people here needed that night to show everyone else just where they came from before they got here, and it was a chance for all of us to see how different we all are, and yet we are all in the same place. Every day with ISU is a cultural learning experience of course, but this one was free and it tasted awesome.
Since I was so busy with the whole eating thing, I neglected to take picures which makes me a horrible person. I bet a bunch of other people took pictures, so I’ll be creeping on facebook for a few of those!
Here’s one of both of us at the table though.
I’ve got a bunch more photos to post from OTHER events though, don’t worry!
So among other things I’ve done recently, Martin took me to the opening game of the soccer team here in Bodø. Apparently they are a big deal and the game airs on TV.
It was basically a last minute decision to go, but it was something Martin really wanted to do… and who am I to not compromise and do things that HE wants to do too, right?
Since the stadium is outdoors and the weather here is unpredictable, I wore the thickest stuff imaginable. I probably looked more ready to go skiing for the next 12 hours than to be sitting on my butt in a stadium for 90 minutes. But hey, I wasn’t cold the WHOLE time this time! I did manage to forget gloves so that wasn’t pleasant.
I thought we arrived pretty early (maybe 30 minutes early), but since it was the opening game, everybody and their mother was here. Traffic was terrible, people parked their cars in roundabouts, the lines were long, and it was mass chaos. Martin may say it wasn’t so bad, but then again people weren’t yelling in a language he didn’t understand.
After we got tickets Martin got us some coffee and a waffle. The heart-shaped waffles are a big deal here, and they’re super cute so I’m cool with that. We sat down and I guess basically watched the game? It wasn’t exactly an eventful game since everything was in Norwegian and soccer itself isn’t an eventful game to begin with.
Halftime was interesting. I guess a group from the dance studio came and performed? They were supposed to be the equivalent of dance team cheerleaders, but cheer isn’t a big deal in Norway. What that means is this team was 4 people. You can’t really do a lot with 4 people… so it went about as well as you would expect. I give them kudos though for doing what they love even if no one else really supported them. I know how that feels… I did colorguard in high school.
Other than that, all I have to mention about soccer is that the weather was super inconsistent this game. I mean it was like a blizzard one minute and the next the sun was shining. Crazy.
The score at the end of the game was tied 1-1. Other than that I honestly have no idea what happened during this game! I wish i could have a more descriptive story, but it’s soccer. I should get praise just for going, right?
I took some videos so I’ll put those all together and post them on here.
I know I know I totally slacked off and spent more time taking videos than I did taking good photos!! I’m a horrible person and I hate sports.
I have actually been pretty busy lately, so I’m sorry I’ve been slacking on blogging still… but it’s hard!
Today I’m posting about my weekend travelling on Hurtigruten to Brønnøysund. Hurtigruten is the big cruiseline in Norway and it mostly sails around the Norwegian coast. It has two basic functions: 1. Tourists and 2. Norwegians using it as another mode of transportation. This means the two groups function a little differently.
On the way TO Brønnøysund we took the MS Trollfjord which came in at like 4 in the morning. We had a room for the night/morning which was a very nice luxury because I basically walked around that boat like a zombie until 8 AM. We paid for a buffet breakfast (at 150 NOK per person, but Martin paid for mine so I guess… free…. for me) and ate around 9 or so. It was pretty basic food, but it was nice to have a free moment to sit with my boyfriend and eat with a pretty nice view.
After walking around the boat aimlessly for a bit (through the shop, the different decks, etc), there was an announcement that we would be crossing the arctic circle soon and that there would be a ceremony. Oh yeah and this was announced in Norwegian first, then English, then German (Norway gets a lot of German visitors which I find ironic but whatever). Seeing as it was something new to do, we decided to go check it out. A bunch of people formed a line next to this table and I could see a staff member feeding each person a spoon of something. As we got closer I realized it was tran, or fish oil. I guess this could be seen as exciting for tourists… “oooooh look we’re vikings with fish oil,” I imagine they were thinking. Me? ”Heeeeeey we forgot to take fish oil before we left…. AAAAAND WE GET TO KEEP THE SPOONS?!?!?!” Martin? “Why is this even a thing…?”. Obviously we live above the arctic circle so I don’t see how going BELOW it is seen as cool, and furthermore I’ve already crossed it a time or two; Martin was in the coastguard so I imagine he crossed it a LOT. But hey, we got free spoons. Oh yeah and when we returned to our room there were certificates on our door saying we officially crossed the arctic circle so I guess I should buy a frame for that or something.
So after that Martin had this great idea. I mean, I guess for Norwegians this is pretty common, but still. There’s a hot tub on the top deck of most of the ships, and Trollfjord was no different. However, we had hit a pretty big storm (large enough that the ship we passed that was about to stop at Bodø actually didn’t stop at all… and nothing stops Norwegians) so the whole outdoor hot tub thing with all hell breaking loose outside. Did Martin care about this weather? Of course not. So we go up to the top deck to survey this whole situation thing. There’s a huge door leading to outside with a little circular window so we can see the hot tub before running out. So what I see is… a storm (duh) that is causing the boat to rock a little more than usual which will make walking outside a bit more difficult, a lot of snow chunks that look like a hybrid mix of snow and hail (ouch), stairs leading up to the tub made of metal and covered with like an inch of ice, and me completely barefoot and in a string bikini. Yeah, this totally looks safe to me.
It was the longest 10 seconds of my life. It was like a scene straight from Deadliest Catch, except with less clothing, less crab, and a lot less money. I have no idea how I didn’t even fall in the process of running to that hot tub. Martin said it felt great to be in this extreme weather but completely safe in the warmth of the tub, and a lot of other Norwegians have said similar things, and I have no idea what they’re talking about. All I know is my body was warm, the boat was rocking a lot, and I was constantly being pelted in the face and chest with snow/hail and that was not a pleasant experience.
After that Martin bought me a Long Island Iced Tea for basically $20. It was meh, I’ll be honest. Maybe I would have liked it more if they brought it to me while I was in that hot tub.
Anyways, we arrived in Bodø at like 3 or 4 or something like that.
After that we spent the weekend with his family, and nothing huge really happened…
SO on the way back on Sunday we took the MS Richard With, which we boarded at 1 AM. I seriously wish I could have spent more time AWAKE on these cruises… But on this way back we didn’t have a room (it cost the same amount to get a room as it cost for our tickets so… no thanks) which meant we had to sleep in the observation room on the couches. It was a little uncomfortable but it worked.
I noticed on the way back that a lot more people were speaking English, and that I was understanding them perfectly. This is a luxury I have learned to live without, so when this happens I know there’s Americans nearby. Turns out there were a LOT… all retired. I would venture to guess they were from the same tour group because they all had the same tags on lanyards that also matched, but I never figured out where exactly they were from.
Miko (the Study Away counselor at MSU) briefly warned me that I might experience counter culture shock. It is exactly what it sounds like: culture shock you experience when you return to your old culture. I guess in a way I had a taste of what I’ll get back home, but it was awful.
I understand why everyone says Americans are loud and rude… because we are. At least, these people were. If I am EVER like that I hope each of you reading this slaps me because that was obnoxious and ignorant. I have never pretended to know everything about Norway, but I have tried so hard to fight the American stereotype while being here. Sure, I AM still American and I will still be me, but I don’t need to yell at people or make huge assumptions. Maybe it’s just how Americans act once they’ve retired? I’m not sure. This group of people really felt entitled to everything, and basically expected to be catered to the whole time. I know I only speak English, but it’s something I’m embarassed of and I hate the fact that I force people here to speak English because I don’t have a choice. Furthermore, when I am forced to speak to someone, I make sure I enunciate and that I keep my sentences pretty simple. Anyone here could tell you that’s true when you hear how I talk to anyone that isn’t Alex, Eric, or Emma (the other native English speakers who can obviously handle my normal speed and vocabulary). I thought that was common sense… but this group still spoke so fast and LOUD… just because you’re yelling doesn’t mean people will suddeny understand you!
Basically I was aggravated by this group and I tried to stay away from them.
The weather on the way back was still a little meh, but by the end it really warmed up, and we took a few pictures of course.
So that was basically our cruise experience together. Definitely wasn’t what I expected, but now I can say I have been on a cruise AND crossed the arctic circle *gasp*!
My view in the morning :) Some dark bread (so healthy we don’t even have an English word for it but here it’s called grøvbrød, with my favorite cheese (Norwegia ost), cucumbers (agurk), butter (smør), coffee with sugar and cream (kaffe med sukker og krem fløte), and milk (melk). See I am learning some Norwegian… kanskje.
The cruise ship we passed in the morning on its way to Bodø, though it never actually made it to… port? Pardon my lack of ship vocabulary-be glad I know what a deck is.
A more up close photo.
One of the hallways where the rooms were… looks just like the Titanic.
On one of the decks they had this wall of all the…. crests? of each stop made. Each county has a crest, and I believe each city/community/kommune has one so that’s cool.
My spoon and certificate
I forgot to mention that the spoon is SO COOL. It says “I did the Arctic” and “Hurtigruten Hunting the light”
Top deck at night
Morning… that little piece of land that has brown grass on it is the arctic circle.
Yup…. that globe right there is the arctic circle.
Like I said the mountains were beautiful. If I remember right, these are the mountains I see every day, but from a different angle. Martin you can correct me if I’m wrong.
Ah, this is more like what I see.
Life rafts… it’s important to know where those are! I don’t want to be like Jack and Rose.
In the tax free shop looking at all the things I can’t afford. I mean that.
Almost back home! Really cleared up.
We really struggle to take good pictures.
Especially when we try to get the cool view in the background and it turns out white. Ugh.
Us when we found out that technically we can’t do the whole Titanic pose because current cruise ships don’t really have that part of the ship anymore, and if they do, they DEFINITELY don’t allow people on it… probably because tourists want to take a picture in the Titanic pose.
The hot tub on the ship on the way back in much nicer weather. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to take a picture during the whole trip outside in the storm, so this is more to give you an idea of what I was in… just with a lot more clouds, ice, wind, and a lot less sun and happiness.
This is like… half the distance I had to walk and it was the easy half.
A second try at the Titanic thing… Martin is such a great guy for actually letting me do that.
And that’s pretty much it.
Like I said I’m really behind, but I’m trying my best to catch up! I have lots of stories to tell and lots of pictures to sort through.
I realize I am very behind, and I’m going to be honest… my only real excuse is that I’ve been watching Prison Break and I am therefore blaming Martin 100%.
Anyways, a few weekends ago I went on a caving trip with the other international students to Svarthammarhola! It was definitely not what I expected… so here’s my story.
So I signed up to go on a cave trip last week that would last 7 hours. It would be a one hour bus ride, so we would have 5 hours in the cave. At least, that’s what they told us. Upon arriving to the cave site, we were told that we would have to walk for an extra 30 minutes to reach the cave. “No big deal,” I thought. I can handle a little extra walking. Except “walking” was a lie, too. What they meant to say was: “We will be hiking up this mountain covered with snow and sharp rocks that you can’t see, and on the steep parts you’ll be holding onto a rope that has a layer of ice around it for your dear life.” Yes. That’s more accurate.
This probably takes the average Norwegian 30 minutes to accomplish since all of you are part mountain goats that don’t know what fear is. For the rest of humanity, this takes closer to an hour. I didn’t have gloves, either, so holding onto a rope that’s frozen with hands that had been grabbing at snow for support was a little difficult. I definitely slowed down our group, and I’m really sorry about that, but at least I did my very best.
The last leg of the hike up was slightly horrifying. We actually had to go up with the Norwegian guide one at a time just for safety. We had to basically crawl up a little ways of snow basically hoping we didn’t slide back down. The guides had kicked some of the snow so that we had a few footholds to try to use, but if anyone before you had messed up, it was ruined and you basically had to make your own. Halfway up there was a rope, frozen, for you to hold onto and push yourself up, but there was nothing else. The rest of the way you could grab onto trees or twigs or something, but this part was just snow, and that fluffy ice will only get you so far.
So after that scary crap, I asked the guide where we go next and he basically just said: “down there.” It was like a small cliff. Another rope had been attached and you just had to lower yourself down slowly. If you messed this up, there were a few sharp rocks waiting for you at the bottom, and plenty of internationals waiting to laugh!
After the whole group made it in, we walked across some thick ice and up a few rocks and ate lunch. After that we walked up some more rocks (yes I know this isn’t descriptive but it was dark) until we reached the exit. I really thought we would spend more time inside the cave learning about caves, but that was pretty much it. I guess we spent a LOT of time trying to get IN the cave.
So after that it was time to go back down. Now that I have hiked a bit, I know that going down is a lot harder than going up. It uses a different muscle and you’re already pretty sore and tired from the whole going up process. Knowing all of this, I was pretty nervous about making it back down, but I have never been so wrong in my life.
Because it was a little steep and there was a lot of snow, I sat my ass down and slid. Yup. I don’t care how many people laughed, I made it down in the most fun way possible, which is sledding on nothing but Martin’s brand new pants. I will admit my butt hurts today, but whatever. Anytime the mountain got too steep for me to feel comfortable with, I just sat down. I think we all had a lot more fun that way.
And then we got on the bus and went home! So now you all know of my interesting caving trip that was basically hiking up and down a mountain with a cave in the middle somewhere.
So we begin upwards…
Me realizing this is going to be much harder than I thought….
One of the parts where we had a rope, but you can’t see it… this was one of the easier rope parts
The route we took… if you look to the left you can see the group in front of us.
This is the angle of the mountain we had to climb up.
The mountain was beautiful, though.
Waiting to be escorted up!
Here you can see just how far up we are
Inside the cave, getting ready to start
This is the entrance we climbed down
Once inside, it was all ice. That floor is just thick ice with a little dirt.
A better view of the ice. Martin says it may be a “glacier”… okay
The next group coming
Alex eating pasta that Petra made
My group… “Team Alex”. I obviously didn’t pick the name!
The view from the exit
The edge of the mountain/cave
Me and Anja
The view was beautiful
Me, Petra, and Anja
So you can see a bit of the background
Our feeble attempts to walk back down
And a beautiful view to sum it up!
I’ll post a video of us on the way down right after this, so you should enjoy that too. We all fell a LOT but we laughed the whole time!
Ha det bra!